Cloudcroft, New Mexico

Cloudcroft is a village in Otero County, New Mexico and is within the Lincoln National Forest. The population was 749 at the 2000 census. At above sea-level in an otherwise arid region, the mild summer makes it a popular tourist attraction in West Texas and New Mexico. It was named by Fodors in 2002 as the Number 3 "Most Overlooked and Underrated Destination Spot. Tourism remains the primary economic driver of the village.

There are several communities linked with Cloudcroft: Weed, Lost Lodge, Sunspot, Mayhill, Piñon, and Timberon.


Cloudcroft is located at (32.954680, -105.740500). Elevation is . According to the United States Census Bureau, the village has a total area of 1.5 square miles (3.9 km²), all of it land.


As of the census of 2000, there were 749 people, 320 households, and 224 families residing in the village. The population density was 500.2 people per square mile (192.8/km²). There were 920 housing units at an average density of 614.4/sq mi (236.8/km²). The racial makeup of the village was 92.66% White, 0.80% Native American, 0.53% Asian, 3.47% from other races, and 2.54% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 15.49% of the population.

There were 320 households out of which 29.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 58.1% were married couples living together, 7.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 30.0% were non-families. 26.3% of all households were made up of individuals and 8.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.34 and the average family size was 2.82.

In the village the population was spread out with 24.3% under the age of 18, 4.5% from 18 to 24, 24.4% from 25 to 44, 31.4% from 45 to 64, and 15.4% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 43 years. For every 100 females there were 98.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 96.2 males.

The median income for a household in the village was $40,795, and the median income for a family was $52,292. Males had a median income of $40,750 versus $27,083 for females. The per capita income for the village was $21,301. About 8.7% of families and 9.9% of the population were below the poverty line, including 14.0% of those under age 18 and 5.2% of those age 65 or over.


In the 1890s the El Paso and Northeastern Railroad organized by the Eddy brothers, Charles Bishop Eddy and John Arthur Eddy, arrived in the newly founded town of Alamogordo with interests in continuing the rail line northward to the mining town of White Oaks and beyond. This required a steady supply of timber. The Eddy brothers sent a survey crew into the Sacramento Mountains to determine the feasibility of laying a railroad line up to the summit to forest. In the fall of 1898, the crew reported that such a line was not only possible, but the area could attract visitors. The name of Cloudcroft - a pasture for the clouds - was suggested. Work on the line soon began.

By the end of 1898, the line had been extended as far as Toboggan Canyon, and construction was started on a pavilion at the summit, which would provide accommodations for the anticipated tourists, once the line was completed. It consisted of a dining room, kitchen, parlor, entertainment hall, and 40 tents, set on wooden platforms. In June of 1899, The Pavilion was formally opened by John Arthur Eddy. The first visitors rode the train as far as Toboggan and finished the trip by stagecoach. Subsequently, glowing reports in area newspapers made Cloudcroft a popular destination. An additional resort, The Lodge, was built in 1899 as a more upscale alternative to The Pavilion. The railroad line arrived in Cloudcroft proper in early 1900 and in June 1900 the train depot was finished, located about west of The Pavilion. The building was occupied in June 1900. Meeting the train became a daily festivity in the village. At this point, three trains a day arrived in Cloudcroft, hauling lumber, mail, and passengers.

In 1909, The Lodge burned down and was rebuilt at its present location in 1911. The Pavilion also burned down on two separate occasions in the 1920s, but was rebuilt each time to conform with the original plans.

The Lodge had several famous guests: Judy Garland, Gilbert Roland, Clark Gable, and Pancho Villa. In the 1930s the resort was managed by Conrad Hilton, who was born and raised in San Antonio, New Mexico. According to reports, Hilton was familiar with The Lodge and wanted to be closer to his family, while his own hotel chain slowly began its climb to prominence.

As automobiles grew in use, the train line began losing money. The last passenger train was in 1938, and the last freight train was in 1947. Since then, tourism in Cloudcroft has grown beyond The Lodge and Pavilion and into Burro Street near Highway 82 where many small shops and restaurants have sprung and summer street dances are hosted. The local population has not grown exceedingly in the past decades, sitting between 700-800 residents.


Cloudcroft is home to three festivals, each taking place at Zenith Park. Various arts and crafts are sold from local and regional artists, live music and entertainment is provided, activities and competitions are held, and local civic groups and churches sell traditional fair food. May Fair is seen as the kickoff of the summer tourist season on Memorial Day Weekend. The weekend following 4th of July is the July Jamboree, the smallest of the three festivals but also the newest. In October, the third and final event, Octoberfest, is celebrated. It has an autumn atmosphere with the local aspen groves turning rather than a traditional Octoberfest. Octoberfest is seen as a final outdoor event before the winter snow and the close of the traditional tourist season.


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